Leaguer of the Month
Born: ca. 1907 in Georgia
Ht:5'11", Wt: 200
Batted right and threw right
Teams:Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh
Crawfords, Homestead Grays, Ciudad Trujillo, Philadelphia
Stars, Baltimore Elite Giants, New York
Black Yankees, Jamestown Red Sox
Though Satchel Paige threw to some of the greatest catchers in Negro League
history (Josh Gibson, Double Duty Radcliffe, Frank Duncan, Quincy Trouppe),
favorite was Bill "Cy" Perkins. The "Cy" nickname came
from his Major League counterpart, Cy Perkins, a great catcher with the Philadelphia
A's in the 1920s.
Unlike Gibson and Radcliffe, who had big personalities that sometimes overshadowed
the pitchers they caught, Perkins was quiet and unassuming, which might have
added to Satchel's positive view of him. Perkins was also Satchel's first
Negro League catcher, starting with Paige in the late 1920s with the Birmingham
Perkins was built like most catchers, tipping the scales at about 200 pounds,
had a strong arm, was very durable, and was a big time power hitter.
Partial statistics from Perkins' prime years of the late 20s and early 30s
show batting averages close to the .300 mark, with more than 20 homers per
In 1932, the Pittsburgh Crawfords had on their roster four of the top 10
catchers in Negro League history: Josh Gibson, Bill Perkins, Double Duty
Frank Duncan. In midseason, Perkins and Duncan jumped the club; Perkins to
the Cleveland Stars.
In 1934, with the integrated Jamestown, ND Red Sox, Perkins was a member
of the "colored
quartet" that tore through the midwest--Radcliffe, Barney Brown and Steel
Arm Davis were the other black players. In 154 at bats, Perkins batted .422
(leading all regulars) and belted 16 homers--a rate of more than 50 in a Major
While Perkins' North Dakota teammates played, and beat, a Major League All-Star
team three straight games that fall, Perkins took a train to Chicago and
played in the second annual East-West All-Star game. As Josh Gibson's backup,
caught the last few innings of a great 1-0 game in which Slim Jones, Harry
Kincannon and Satchel combined on a seven-hit shutout for the East. Perkins
in one at bat.
In 1940, Perkins returned to the East-West classic, this time as a catcher
with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Perkins caught the entire game, singled
drove in a run in five at bats in an 11-0 East victory.
Some of Perkins' best seasons came while with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in
the mid-1930s. Despite having the best catcher in black baseball, Josh Gibson,
the Craws kept Perkins as a backup for their hectic 200-game schedule.
In 1937, Perkins jumped the Crawfords with Satchel Paige to play with the
Ciudad Trujillo team in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After arriving
on the island
and finding out that they were playing for the political life of Raphael
Trujillo, a ruthless dictator, Paige sent more more help from the states,
Papa Bell, Sam Bankhead and Josh Gibson.
The Ciudad Trujillo Dragons won the league championship, with Bankhead hitting
a grand slam homer in the title game. In all, Perkins split the catching
duties with Gibson, and played outfield, while batting .253.
Perkins and the rest of the "jumpers" were banned from Negro League
play temporarily, but were reinstated in 1938. Perkins joined the Philadelphia
Stars and continued his excellent play. Perkins last season in the Negro Leagues
was 1948. Soon after, he was killed in an altercation at a restaurant.
©Copyright 2006, Kyle McNary,